MARKET WAITS FOR THE FIRST FORECASTS ABOUT THE 2005 CROP
The domestic market of grain and fodder crops has been quiet over the last ten days. The stable price quotations, according to experts, are due to the lack of export and the fact that only small quantities are traded. Active supply is another stabilizing factor. Farmers who need money for fertilization of autumn crops, are forced to sell small quantities of grain in order to provide turnover capital for their production purposes. According to data of the System for Agricultural Market Information (SAMI), the average price of milling wheat has been stable at the level of BGN168/ton before VAT over the last two weeks. Prices are highest these days in the municipalities of Plovdiv and Pazardjik - almost BGN185/ton, and reaching BGN180/ton in Gabrovo and Pleven. The commodity is the cheapest in Vidin - below BGN160/ton. Fodder wheat prices have not changed either. Selling offers in the regions where fodder grain is traded are in the range of BGN140-150/ton, while the average price for the country is BGN143/ton.Due to the lack of export and the delay of the spring sowing, there is currently no demand for barley in Bulgaria. Nevertheless, producers may hike the price of this commodity in expectation of higher demand. Over the last week barley quotations picked up to BGN140-160/ton in the municipalities of Stara Zagora and Haskovo. The highest price has been registered in Dorbrich - BGN170/ton - but demand there is also weak. The average quotation is BGN143/ton. Corn is one of the grain crops, whose price is way down from last year. However, a slight upward tendency can be noticed due to exports. In mid-March firms were buying at the Varna port corn for export and that led to a price increase by 10-12% in the region, to almost BGN150/ton before VAT. The same trend can be observed in the Dobrich region as well. Things are much different in the other regions. Some 3-5% price rise could be seen in the municipalities of Stara Zagora and Haskovo, but quotations there have been high - BGN160-180/ton - since the beginning of the year. The lowest price - BGN130/ton - was registered in Shoumen, but the offered grain had a high moisture content. The average purchase price is BGN150/ton at present, up 1.4% from the end of March. Trade in sunflower is also trifling. In most regions the commodity is offered at BGN400/ton before VAT, but no more than 5 to 8 tons changed hands. Price levels reach BGN420/ton in the municipalities of Montana, Vratsa and Stara Zagora. Prices of flour ex mills have stayed stable. The average wholesale quotation of Grade 500 flour is around BGN332/ton after VAT, and Grade 1150 fetches BGN273/ton. A slight drop was registered during the week in Haskovo, Stara Zagora and Shoumen. Retail prices also decreased and a pack of flour usually sells at BGN0.40-0.65/kg after VAT. The average retail price for the country is BGN55/kg.Now everybody is waiting for the first forecasts about the 2005 crop. According to experts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, by mid-April it will become clear what damages have been inflicted to the new crop by rodents and unfavourable climatic conditions. Recently there has been news that some 800 dca in the region of Silistra - mainly areas under milling wheat - were flooded. Although forecasts are usually quite relative, this year's yield of grain could be expected at about 2-2.5 million tons. That will fully meet domestic demand, but possibilities for export will be limited. If international prices are more advantageous than those in Bulgaria, however, a considerable part of the crop could be exported and wheat prices will go up as a result.